Statement from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Lee
The Higher Education supplement in The Australian newspaper (Wednesday, May 2) carries a prominent story about Southern Cross University which suggests our international operation could be in breach of provider standards under the new national regulator. The article states the possible breaches result from irregularities in admission processes and assessments at two offshore programs.
I want to put on record my confidence in our international activities and the academic standing of all SCU degrees, and provide some information about the matters raised in The Australian newspaper.
It is true that SCU discovered an irregularity in the admission procedures for an SCU course at Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM) in March 2012. Since then, we have been rigorously investigating this issue. That investigation has not yet concluded. We have established that the irregularity resulted from a staff member at SIPMM providing a statement of completion for SIPMM students who had undertaken studies elsewhere in order to trigger automatic admission to SCU under the terms of the collaboration agreement.
The motivation appears to have been to fast track our admission procedures which require that previous qualifications from institutions other than SIPMM be considered by SCU on a case by case basis. The investigation conducted by Planning, Quality and Review (PQR) has established that the students concerned were, in fact, well qualified for entry to our degree and would have received an offer if our admission processes had been followed. Their academic performance as students of SCU was also well within normal bounds.
This does not mitigate the fact that admission processes were not followed by SIPMM, and at the conclusion of the PQR investigation appropriate actions will be taken.
The second issue relates to the Hong Kong Institute of Technology (HKIT), a collaboration which is in teach out. An anonymous complaint was received on April 25 in relation to prior academic qualifications of new students, and the University is also investigating this matter.
More broadly SCU has invested significant energy and resources in its international operations. While there will always be scope for continuous improvement, during the past 12 months we have audited our international collaborations from a compliance and academic performance perspective and we are consolidating the number of active teaching collaborations. We will pursue these particular matters to an appropriate conclusion that upholds our academic integrity and the highest standard of accountability.